Jayawardene steps down in his own understated style

February 11, 2009

Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka’s most successful test captain and one of the nicest men in cricket, is stepping down as skipper after their tour of Pakistan.

“In the best interests of the Sri Lanka team, I have decided to stand down as Sri Lanka captain after this Pakistan tour,” Jayawardene said in a statement after three years at the helm.

“This is something I have been considering for some time as it has been my long-held belief that my successor should have at least 18 months in the job to imprint his vision on the team for the 2011 World Cup.”

Jayawardene’s departure follows Sri Lanka’s 4-1 defeat by India in a recent ODI series.

I was very impressed by Jayawardene at the 2007 World Cup in West Indies, when his side reached the final. His mild-mannered, almost shy, approach belied a strong will-to-win and an aggressive glint in his eye.

It was hard not to be relaxed amid the palm trees of the Caribbean, but Jayawardene seemed the calmest, most honest, sporting captain you would ever come across.

He has also won a number of awards for his captaincy and fair play as well as being praised for charity work.

He will be a loss to Sri Lanka but at least the team will continue to benefit from his effortless batting.

PHOTO: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene speaks during a news conference in Karachi, January 18, 2009. REUTERS

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